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protects this grove, behold, her father now
gives thee this babe for handmaid! Lo, thy spear
her infant fingers hold, as from her foes
she flies a suppliant to thee! Receive,
O goddess, I implore, what now I cast
upon the perilous air.’—He spoke, and hurled
with lifted arm the whirling shaft. The waves
roared loud, as on the whistling javelin
hapless Camilla crossed th' impetuous flood.
But Metabus, his foes in hot pursuit,
dared plunge him in mid-stream, and, triumphing,
soon plucked from grass-grown river-bank the spear,
the child upon it,—now to Trivia vowed,
a virgin offering. Him nevermore
could cities hold, nor would his wild heart yield
its sylvan freedom, but his days were passed
with shepherds on the solitary hills.
His daughter too in tangled woods he bred:
a brood-mare from the milk of her fierce breast
suckled the child, and to its tender lips
.Her udders moved; and when the infant feet
their first firm steps had taken, the small palms
were armed with a keen javelin; her sire
a bow and quiver from her shoulder slung.
Instead of golden combs and flowing pall,
she wore, from her girl-forehead backward thrown,
the whole skin of a tigress; with soft hands
she made her plaything of a whirling spear,
or, swinging round her head the polished thong
of her good sling, she fetched from distant sky
Strymonian cranes or swans of spotless wing.
From Tuscan towns proud matrons oft in vain
sought her in marriage for their sons; but she
to Dian only turned her stainless heart,
her virgin freedom and her huntress' arms
with faithful passion serving. Would that now
this Iove of war had ne'er seduced her mind
the Teucrians to provoke! So might she be
one of our wood-nymphs still. But haste, I pray,
for bitter is her now impending doom.
Descend, dear nymph, from heaven, and explore
the country of the Latins, where the fight
with unpropitious omens now begins.
These weapons take, and from this quiver draw
a vengeful arrow, wherewith he who dares
to wound her sacred body, though he be
a Trojan or Italian, shall receive
bloody and swift reward at my command.
Then, in a cloud concealed, I will consign
her corpse, ill-fated but inviolate
unto the sepulchre, restoring so
the virgin to her native land.” Thus spake
the goddess; but her handmaid, gliding down,
took her loud pathway on the moving winds,
and mantled in dark storm her shape divine.
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